King of the remote control mountain
Published on January 11th, 2023
The American Model Yacht Association gathered top remote control sailors in Texas last November to crown a king, and after three days and dozens of races, one was finally crowned. Story by Dave Reed for Sailing World:
Tony Gonsalves’ thumbs caress the sail and rudder joysticks on his remote, making millimeter adjustments to his DragonFlite 95’s trim as he silently wills the 37-inch one-design through the leeward gate and toward the 12-foot-long finish line. When his boat’s blunt bow finally breaks the line, the Bajan radio sailing champion from Florida emerges from his flow state with a long and deep exhale.
“Sometimes, I forget to breathe,” he says with a grin, his competitive juices draining from his broad and tensed shoulders. After thumbing 21 races, he’s finally bagged one on account of a good start, a lucky shift, and a clean getaway in a breeze barely strong enough to rustle the leaves of a nearby oak.
These zephyr conditions, which would leave traditional sailboats at the dock, is nerve-racking stuff on Dallas’ White Rock Lake, where experts of various model-yacht classes have been invited to the inaugural American Model Yachting Association’s Champion of Champions Regatta. Their host is DragonFlite importer and racer Chuck LeMahieu, who supplied 17 complete boats with custom graphics and sails.
The vision of this championship, LeMahieu says, was to gather the greats of American radio sailing on one dock, put them in identical boats, and demonstrate to the world at large that remote-control racing is just as fun and competitive as traditional yachting. This is real racing among real sailors, he says, most of whom have or continue to race in bigger boats as well. – Full report